IT’S NOW OR NEVER FOR REPARATIONS
By C. C. Campbell-Rock
As we enter the third week since George Perry Floyd, Jr.’s murder, millions are still protesting around the world, carrying signs, demanding justice, and proclaiming that Black Lives Matter.
Sparked by the white supremacy-fueled murders of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky, and Ahmaud Marquez Arbery, near Brunswick in Glynn County, Georgia, the calls for justice is not new.
What is new is that people all over the world are shook; woke in a way that has propelled the civil rights movement of the 20th century into a 21st century version that is multiracial, multicultural, and worldwide.
One would think that police, nationwide, would hear the cries for justice and become more responsible and accountable in the wake of protests worldwide.
But no…while justice seekers continue protesting, the murders have continued. On June 1, David McAtee, the black owner of YaYa’s, a barbeque eatery in Louisville was shot by cops, who claimed McAtee shot at them first. However, after watching the video, McAtee’s mother, Odessa McAtee, said he had nothing in his hands. “I just want justice my son,” she said.
Then on June 12, police shot Rayshard Brooks in the back twice, killing him after they were summoned because he was asleep in his car in the Wendy’s drive-thru lane in Atlanta, Georgia.
But this time, there will be no sweeping under the rug of the longstanding tradition of murdering unarmed black people. This time, there will be no coddling of cops or white supremacists, no flimsy excuses accepted, no back to business as usual.
Next week’s issue of The New Yorker features an interactive cover entitled “Say Their Names” by Kadir Nelson that filmmaker/activist Ava DuVernay on Sunday called a “heartbreaker.” There, for all to see, are the faces of black people killed by cops and white supremacists, who clearly view black people as expendable, valueless, inconsequential.
Nelson is a Los Angeles–based painter, illustrator, and author who is best known for his paintings often featured on the covers of The New Yorker magazine, and album covers for Michael Jackson and Drake. His work is focused on African American culture and history.
Ironically, Nelson is 46-years-old, the same age as George Floyd was when he was murdered by former cop Derek Chauvin.
The continuous protests may be a harbinger of what is to come. Clearly, it is now or never for justice proponents to exact systemic changes to the institutional racism that has plagued black community in the U.S. and abroad.
To that end, changes are being made, laws written, and monuments to white supremacy are coming down.
In Washington D.C., on June 8, 2020, Democrats introduced the Justice in Policing Act to end excessive use of force by police and make it easier to identify, track, and prosecute police misconduct at the U.S. https://d3i6fh83elv35t.cloudfront.net/static/2020/06/JUST_POLICE_xml-HWM.pdf
And, as usual, when action is taken to assist and protect African-Americans, black tokens are pushed into the limelight to naysay and back up the white neo-cons’ opposition to equality and justice.
This time it’s Republican Senator Timothy Eugene Scott (R-S.C.), who not only covered for Trump’s decision to have a rally on Juneteenth In Tulsa (“He didn’t know the significance of Tulsa and Juneteenth,” Scott said), but he also backed up Trump’s desire not to tamper with qualified immunity for cops.
Scott told CBS News’ “Face the Nation” that lending qualified immunity for police officers is “off the table” for Republicans, and that “any poison pill in legislation means we get nothing done.”
Qualified immunity is a legal doctrine in United States federal law that shields government officials from being sued for discretionary actions performed within their official capacity unless their actions violated “clearly established” federal law or constitutional rights.
“That doctrine has become one of the chief ways in which law enforcement avoids accountability for misconduct,” according to a 2019 statement on appeal.org. Qualified immunity permits law enforcement and other government officials to violate people’s constitutional rights with virtual impunity. Today, we hear about police shooting after police shooting where officers are rarely if ever held accountable by the criminal legal system, either because prosecutors decline to charge, because grand juries decline to indict, or because juries decline to convict.” https://theappeal.org/qualified-immunity-explained/
Trump’s desire to retain qualified immunity, along with the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 8, decision to not review the qualified immunity doctrine, is a sure sign that the policy will be stricken from the Dems bill, if McConnell even allows a vote on the Dems’ bill in the Senate. So, the doctrine will probably remain in place. Never mind that taxpayers have had to foot the bill for police misconduct in the U.S. to the tune of $800 million dollars in civil lawsuit settlements.
What civil rights proponents can’t do, however, is to be distracted from the larger task of securing justice; once and for all. Black people are facing bigger challenges than just the qualified immunity doctrine. Discrimination in jobs, housing, lending, and healthcare are just a few.
There is only one remedy for it all. That America pays for its original sin of slavery, legal segregation, and 21st century discrimination.
In other words, it’s now or never for Reparations.
Nikole Hannah-Jones, an investigative reporter covering racial injustice for The New York Times Magazine and creator of “The 1619 Project,” for which she won a Pulitzer Prize, made the case recently for reparations.
Hannah-Jones, a 2017 MacArthur Fellow and co-founder of the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting, a mentorship and training program dedicated to elevating journalists of color, said of the 1619 Project, “I don’t think you can come away from it without understanding the project is an argument for reparations. You can’t read it and not understand that something is owed,” but, “If we understand that the legacy (of slavery) is alive right now and that so much of the conditions of black Americans can be traced to that legacy, then what do we actually owe? What is the restitution that is owed?” Jones told the Chicago Tribune in 2019.
Internationally acclaimed author Ta-Nehisi Coates’ article in June 2014 issue of the Atlantic, entitled,
The Case for Reparations is an in-depth analysis of why reparations are owed. https://amp.theatlantic.com/amp/article/361631/
“Two hundred fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole.,” Coates writes.
Testifying before the U.S. Congressional Hearing on Reparations in Washington D.C, in summer 2019, Coates told US Congressional leaders that many of the inequities created by American slavery and segregation persist today, including economic disparities. ”The wealth of the typical Black family has 1/10 of the wealth of a typical White family,” Bashir Muhammad Akinyele, quoted Coates on patch.com.
As the struggle continues and protesters make the case that Black Lives Matter, the playing field will never be leveled until reparations are paid.